Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Meth use on rise in Kingdom



Meth use on rise in Kingdom

A police officer questions a detained man after a drug raid on a house in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district
A police officer questions a detained man after a drug raid on a house in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district turned up numerous bags of methamphetamine last week. NATIONAL POLICE

Meth use on rise in Kingdom

Cambodia's appetite for synthetic drugs is increasing, warns a new report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, with the use and production of amphetamine-type substances both on the upswing in the Kingdom.

The report, titled The Challenge of Synthetic Drugs in East and Southeast Asia and Oceania, was released today and examines developments in the synthetic drug market and the challenges governments in the region face in combating the trade.

“East and Southeast Asia and Oceania has the world’s largest ATS [amphetamine-type substances] market, which is dominated by methamphetamine in crystalline and tablet forms,” a UNODC statement said.

In 2013, according to the report, crystal methamphetamine was the “primary drug of concern” in Cambodia, though the country has seen an uptick in the use of both crystal meth, known popularly as “ice”, and the tablet form referred to locally as yama.

The report says that people receiving treatment for methamphetamine addiction accounted for 94 per cent of people undergoing rehabilitation in Cambodia.

Maxing out at about $5 a pill, the yama available in Cambodia is some of the cheapest in the region. The drug, a mixture of methamphetamine, caffeine and other cutting agents, is widely available and wildly popular. It has historically been favoured by users who work blue-collar jobs for long hours, such as fishermen, truck drivers and construction workers.

“In recent years, there have been reports of methamphetamine tablets being possibly manufactured in Cambodia and Vietnam,” the report says.

Crystal methamphetamine, on the other hand, is usually much purer, stronger and more expensive than the tablets. In Cambodia, the drug is viewed as a cleaner and less-risky yama alternative, and due to its relative strength, has seen its popularity rise by both the lower and upper classes.

David Harding, technical adviser at the NGO Friends International in Cambodia, works with younger, at-risk people to educate them on the dangers of drug abuse. He said his organisation has witnessed a major rise in crystal methamphetamine use.

“What we’ve seen is a very dramatic upswing in crystal methamphetamine [use],” he said. “It’s seen as much more aspirational.” Harding added that increased domestic production of the drug, as well as a lack of education about its ills, has likely led to it being abused by more Cambodians, particularly youths. “There have been meth labs uncovered in Cambodia, which means supply is likely to be higher than say, heroin, which is imported,” he said. “The more meth you have around, the more, obviously, it is an option to use.”

The report, which stressed the need for increased cooperation between states, also noted that in addition to more classic trafficking routes in the region, “large amounts” of crystal methamphetamine were perceived as having been smuggled into Cambodia from Africa, as well.

In addition to ATS, the UNODC said that new psychoactive substances also signal a major concern for the regions studied. Cambodia, in particular, has seen the emergence of ketamine, a PCP-like substance that causes hallucinations and out-of-body experiences, in its borders.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Ministry mulls ASEAN+3 travel bubble

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to launch a travel bubble allowing transit between Cambodia and 12 other regional countries in a bid to resuscitate the tourism sector amid crushing impact of the ongoing spread of Covid-19, Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak told The Post on

  • Courts’ decisions now published as reference source

    The Ministry of Justice has published 44 verdicts from civil litigation cases which can be used as models for court precedents and for study by the public and those who work in pertinent fields. Publication of the verdicts on December 31 came as the result of joint

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • Quarantine site in north Phnom Penh inaugurated

    A four-building quarantine centre in Phnom Penh’s Prek Pnov district was formally inaugurated on January 6. The centre can house up to 500 people, according to Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng. At the inauguration ceremony, Sreng said the municipal hall had cooperated with the Ministry

  • China firm to develop Mondulkiri airport

    Tourism to the Kingdom’s northeast corridor could experience a remarkable metamorphosis after the government decided in principle of a Chinese company to study and develop a proposal to build a regional-level airport in Mondulkiri province, according to industry insiders. The Council of Ministers said